In April 2007, Prince William made headlines when he split with his longtime girlfriend Kate Middleton. The break-up did not last and four years later, the heartthrob prince married Kate in a magnificent ceremony viewed by tens of millions around the world.
Such a scenario captures the popular imagination and reinforces the view that love can be sweeter and stronger the second time. Not all pairs who reunite, however, were lucky enough to find a happily ever after.
Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s fiery relationship went down to Hollywood history as the most dramatic of the past century. They first married in 1964, a year after their first on-screen collaboration, and divorced after 10 years of lavish lifestyle and bitter fighting. The couple could not easily let go of each other and they remarried in 1975. The cycle of fighting and making up resumed and a year later, the couple divorced for the second and last time.
While a rekindled affair has the potential to correct past mistakes, several experts agree that second chances are more likely to end in more relationship woes.
Beautiful but delicate
Second attempts at love are like houseplants, said Cure Unknown Author Pamela Weintraub. They’re beautiful but also delicate.
A study by Amber Vennum, assistant professor of family studies and human services at Kansas State University, revealed that people involved in on-off again relationships or cyclical relationships tend to be impulsive in their decisions. These include matters such as moving in together or having a child together.
Impulsive decision-making between cyclical couples led to less satisfaction, worse communication, and a higher certainty about the future, the study finds.
Vennum added that couples who reunite believe that their partners have changed for the better and that communication has improved. This belief turned out to be a disappointment for pairs who reconciled.
If Vennum will advise couples who have broken up, this is what she will say, “Don’t get back together.”
Vennum suggests a careful study of the decision if the couple insists on getting back together.
Meant to be together?
While attempting to revive a doomed romance may have more negative consequences, some experts believe that there are relationships worth a second chance.
Dr. Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a psychology professor from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, emphasized the role of forgiveness in human relationships. Dr. Whitbourne recalled studies showing that people who forgive tend to be happier than those who don’t and that people can still change for the better.
“Once your anger subsides, pushing the “reset” button on the first partner may just give you greater insight and appreciation for that relationship,” Dr. Whitbourne said.
Curious cases of Love 2.0 are portrayed in the television series The Affair. The current season showed the two main characters Noah and Alison back in the arms of their original spouses. Both Noah and Alison had the chance to lead a life together when they first left their first spouses, but their relationship went downhill.
For people who ended up being like Noah and Alison, Vennum has this to say: “The more you are cyclical, the more your relationship quality tends to decrease and that creates a lack of trust and uncertainty about the future of the relationship, perpetuating the pattern.”
Will Vennum’s research prove right in the case of Noah and Alison?
The Affair’s season finale airs on RTL CBS Entertainment first and exclusive, express from the U.S. on January 31, Tuesday, 9:55PM on RTL CBS Entertainment is available on SKY cable channels 53(SD) and 196(HD), Destiny Cable channel 53, Dream Satellite channel 17 and Cablelink channels 37(SD), 313 (HD).